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Conner catch-and-run TD beats the clock

Posted Aug 14, 2017

Steelers revisit two-minute scenario for learning purposes.

LATROBE, Pa. _ The second two-minute series of the afternoon lasted one snap thanks to James Conner.

The rookie running back from Pitt caught a short pass from quarterback Bart Houston on first-and-10 from the 49-yard line, made safety Jordan Dangerfield miss near the boundary in the vicinity of the 36 and then sprinted down the sideline into the end zone.

The catch-and-run touchdown earned Conner cheers from the fans still watching at Saint Vincent College and celebratory hugs from Conner’s offensive teammates.

A third two-minute series was subsequently staged, since Conner’s play hadn’t used up much of the 1:18 allotted for the offense to drive 49 yards for a touchdown, with one timeout at its disposal.

The Steelers had run two such two-minute scenarios on Sunday, but head coach Mike Tomlin “didn’t like what we saw.”

They repeated the drill today and got “more competitive results,” Tomlin said.

The do-over drill also provided more opportunities for Tomlin to roam the sideline and offer up pre-snap tendencies and scenarios and coaching points based on the down, distance and time remaining.  

“It’s about education,” he explained. “It’s not necessary winning the drill, it’s educating, and educating both sides.

“The play that James made is a calculated risk under those circumstances. He gets tackled in bounds, we gotta burn a timeout there. He made a guy miss and created a big play. He has to understand what he’s doing when he does those type of things. There are a lot of lessons to be learned in those scenarios on both sides.”

The drill was two-hand touch, but Tomlin was certain Conner would have evaded Dangerfield and scored had tackling been permitted.

Still, Conner said he intended to further review the two-minute re-do.

“I gotta go back on film and watch it,” he said. “In those two-minute situations there are times where you need to get out of bounds. I have to really look and see if I really made the right decision or not, gotta critique.

“If you scored, yeah, it’s the right decision because we want points. But we’ll see, gotta look at it.”

MEDICAL FILE: Quarterback Landry Jones, wide receiver Demarcus Ayers, cornerback Cam Sutton, safety Mike Mitchell, cornerback Senquez Golson, outside linebacker Bud Dupree, linebacker Ryan Shazier, linebacker Steven Johnson, center Maurkice Pouncey, outside linebacker James Harrison and outside linebacker Keion Adams were among the players who didn’t participate or practiced on a limited basis due to injury or a coach’s decision.

SAY WATT: Tomlin wasn’t interested in discussing a published report this afternoon that said the Steelers’ plan is to start Dupree and No. 1 pick T.J. Watt at outside linebacker and not rotate other players into the game at those positions, according outside linebackers coach Joey Porter.

“I’ll let him address all those bold statements regarding rotations,” Tomlin said. “You guys aren’t sucking me into those waters.”

As for Harrison’s anticipated snaps this season, Tomlin said the veteran would get “as many as he can handle, as many as I’ll prescribe, and I’m on the fence about what that number is.”

Watt said he has yet to be so anointed or informed.

“I haven’t heard anything,” he said. “I’m just coming out here trying to do everything I can each and every single day to show these coaches what I can do. All that stuff’s above my pay grade. That’s not my responsibility, to put the lineup out there. I’m just out here trying to show that I’m as consistent as possible, and that I can make plays, that I can be trusted.”

QUICK-HITTERS: The defense won “Seven Shots,” 4-3. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs threw three incompletions on his three reps to end the drill … Cornerback William Gay intercepted Dobbs and cornerback Mike Hilton intercepted Houston in a wide receivers/defensive backs drill … Punter Jordan Berry wowed the crowd with a punt that traveled approximately 64 yards. Wide receiver Marcus Tucker muffed the return at the goal line … Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster made a great catch on a fade from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in “Seven Shots” against Gay. Wide receiver Antonio Brown made an even better stretching, toe-tapping catch on a pass from Dobbs at cornerback Brandon Dixon’s expense in the wide receivers/defensive backs drill … Gay ended the first two-minute drill by intercepting Dobbs on a pass intended for wide receiver Justin Hunter. The third two-minute drive ended on a Houston incompletion.